The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 09/17/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for staying with
us the next hour.
There`s a lot going on in the news today right now.
Within the next five hours, Scotland is due to start voting on whether
they`re going to become their own independent country or not.
There was some new breaking news late tonight that yet another NFL
player has been arrested on domestic violence charges, on criminal assault
charges. That`s the sort of thing that would not typically be national
news except the National Football League is collapsing into chaos in terms
of how it deals with this issue. Several billion dollars worth of
commercial sponsorship are now teetering on the edge of that story and it
has advanced further tonight.
In terms of the American elections this fall, everybody`s on the edge
of their seats today. And tonight, waiting for a ruling which could come
down at any time concerning the Senate race in Kansas, of all places, which
very well might determine who controls the whole U.S. Senate this year, all
eyes tonight on the Kansas Supreme Court. We do not know when that ruling
is going to come but it could come at any time.
So, there`s a lot going on, there`s a lot worth watching.
But we start tonight with ISIS, the Sunni militant group in Iraq and
in Syria that the U.S. government says we are now at war with. ISIS has
now released a new video that is not another beheading video, thank God,
but it is plainly aimed at an American audience. It`s 52 seconds long. It
appears to be sort of a trailer for a longer video of some kind, but we
don`t know that for sure.
What they have released is this 52 seconds worth of propaganda video.
And it is propaganda, absolutely. But in terms of its news worthiness, I
think it is worth seeing because it shows what they`re capable of in terms
of their skill at producing a message about themselves but it also gives
some indication as to what strategically they are trying to get Americans
It`s less than a minute. It`s not gory. It is disturbing because
it`s a propaganda video.
But if you look at what they`re trying to accomplish with this video,
you can sort of see their strategy in terms of what they want from the
American people and the American government, how they want us to react to
them. It`s essentially why ISIS just released this propaganda video.
I have to tell you there were two moments in which we think there were
dead bodies visible in that footage, in this footage that we cut out. But
other than that, this is pretty much what they released. This is – this
is the tape.
Now, part of the reaction to this video today has been about just how
Hollywood their production values are. How slick they are with video and
If part of their success as a terrorist organization is conveying a
message that`s attractive to recruits around the world who then send them
money or come fight with them, then it`s helpful to know that they`re
really good at crafting their own message and making it look like
But that, of course, is only one side of what they`re doing. That`s
one side of their strategy to try to succeed on their own term. Yes, on
the one hand, they need to build themselves up. They need to make
themselves stronger and bigger and richer by attracting recruit and
But the other side of it, is that they also have to attack, right?
They also have to try to make their enemies weaker. They do that directly
with force in the places they have taken territory in, in Iraq and Syria.
They`ve just simply used military force to overwhelm rivals and local
authorities and take over whole swaths of each of those countries.
They`ve not yet tried to launch a physical assault of any kind on the
United States, but they do clearly think of the United States as their
enemy – as maybe their great enemy, as the enemy they most want to fight.
Certainly, they like to portray the United States as their equal in the
world who they want to face off against one on one.
And the way they`re trying to hurt the United States – at least not
yet, is about them physically getting to us, right? The way they`re trying
to hurt the United States is instead by making us try to hurt ourselves.
They`re trying to scare us and so terrorize us that we take actions that we
otherwise would never take, that out of fear and anger and upset at what
they`ve done, we allow ourselves to be provoked into doing things because
of ISIS that with a cooler head we would not do.
That`s global terrorism strategy 101, right? It`s the near enemy, far
enemy idea. You can hit the near enemy because you`re near to them. The
far enemy, you have to convince to hurt themselves.
And so, this new video that ISIS has put out, it`s not aimed at the
local people where ISIS is located. It`s not aimed at scaring into
submission the people who live in the areas of Iraq and Syria that this
group controls. It`s not aimed at upsetting the Assad regime, that they`re
opposed to in Syria, and that they want to overthrow. It`s not aimed at
the Iraqi government which they also want to overthrow.
This new video that they released is designed for an American
audience. And they`ve chosen American reference points that will make us
feel like they`re coming to get us, right? They`re supposed to freak us
So, in this new video they released, they show the American president,
they show President Obama. They show a reference to the previous American
president. They show the “mission accomplished” banner from the George W.
They show American troops on the ground in the Middle East. They show
the White House.
But they`re good at trying to scare us, right? They don`t just show
stock footage of the White House or some post card picture of the White
House. They instead choose footage of the White House that maybe you might
take yourself on your cell phone if you were driving past the White House,
which then makes it extra scary when it comes from ISIS.
This is the footage they show of the White House. It`s like drive-by,
not very professional footage. It makes you wonder, hmm, how did they
shoot this? Is ISIS casing the White House? Are they here?
That`s the feeling they`re trying to create, right? They`re here,
they`re coming for us. This is a war between the United States of America
And they think they`re going to win. They think they`re going to
threaten the White House. They thing they`re going the take over our
country, as the Islamic caliphate, right? Worldwide ambitions – they`re
coming for us.
Late last month in Nigeria, a group called Boko Haram also declared
that they are an Islamic caliphate. And, of course, that`s awkward because
the whole idea of the caliphate is that it`s supposed to rule the whole
world. So, there can`t really be two as long as we only have one world.
But ISIS declared they`re the caliphate. They declared that in Iraq
and Syria. And now, last month, Boko Haram in Nigeria, they declared that
they`re the caliphate, too.
Nigeria is a big country. It`s the most populous country in Africa.
It has 170 million people. And Boko Haram did not declare the caliphate in
all of Nigeria. They declared it in northern Nigeria, in eastern Nigeria
along the border with Cameroon, along the eastern side there.
And that geography is helpful for understanding the efforts to fight
Boko Haram thus far. It at least helps you understand those reports that
when Nigeria sent its troops out there to go fight Boko Haram, sometimes
instead of fighting them, the Nigerian troops instead just threw down their
weapons and fled across the border into the neighboring nation of Cameroon.
So, the Iraqi troops that dropped their uniforms and dropped their
weapons and left the keys in the tank when ISIS took over places like Mosul
in Iraq, Nigeria has had the same problems when they get their troops to
fight Boko Haram. Like ISIS, Boko Haram does operate sort of like a
terrorist organization but they also operate sort of like an army. They
have a lot of advanced and heavy weaponry that they`ve taken from the
Boko Haram is a large group. They`re holding territory after they
take it. They don`t just attack and leave. They hold territory, they
clear it and they hold – they keep control of it. Boko Haram, of course,
is the group that horrified the whole world, including the United States
when they kidnapped hundred of school girls from a school in northern
Nigeria, 270 girls they took.
Just over 50 of those girls were able to escape in the first couple of
days after the kidnapping, but since then, none of those 270 girls has
gotten away since the initial few first escaped. Those girls were never
There was, of course, a rash of attention when the girls were first
taken five months ago. There was a lot of international pressure. There
was the “bring back the girl” campaign, but if you haven`t heard anything
about it since, it`s not because they brought back the girls. They did
not. Those girls are still gone. Boko Haram still has them.
Today, Boko Haram sent two suicide bombers into a teachers college in
northern Nigeria. One of the attackers reportedly blew himself up inside a
lecture hall that was filled of student. A second bomber was trying to
enter a second lecture hall but he couldn`t get in somehow and he blew
himself up outside the lecture hall.
The initial reports out of northern Nigeria in this attack were that
at least 15 students were killed, more than 30 of them are hospitalized.
Boko Haram has captured lots of modern military equipment from the
Nigerian armed forces. They`re well arm and apparently well funded. They
control territory now that is about the size of West Virginia. They`re
currently ruling over about 3 million civilians in Nigeria. In areas under
their control, they rule with beheadings, they take women and girls
wholesale. They`re forcing children to become child soldiers for them.
And now, they say they`re an Islamic caliphate and will take over the whole
NBC News reported this week that their group is poised the take over
yet another large city in Nigeria, a city with a population of about 1
million people. Boko Haram has it surrounded and seems ready to move into
it, to their supposed caliphate is presumably about to get a lot bigger.
Despite all that, though, Boko Haram has not caused the same reaction
in the United States that ISIS has. Substantively, there`s not much
material difference in terms of the threats posed by these two different
groups in these two different parts of the world. In fact, if you look at
the U.S. government assessments of the kind of threat posed by these
groups, the U.S. government has used basically exactly the same language to
describe the threat posed by these groups, how much of a threat they are to
us and how they want to try to hurt us.
Watch. Here`s our government talking about ISIS now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At present, we have no credible information that
ISIL is planning to attack the homeland.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What we have not yet
detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have
threatened America and our allies.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: So that`s how the U.S. government is explaining the threat
from ISIS now. That`s the same way they`ve explained the threat from Boko
FBI Director James Comey describing the threat to the U.S. from Boko
Haram last year. He said this, “The FBI assesses that Boko Haram does not
currently pose a threat to the homeland. Boko Haram does however aspire to
attack U.S. or western interests in the region.
So, according to the U.S. government, that`s the rap on Boko Haram.
They have not attacked us at home but they would love to, and meanwhile,
they`ve threatened the region.
That`s exactly the same rap on ISIS. They`re not about to attack us
here at home, but they would love to. Meanwhile, they`ve threatened the
Same threat assessment, both groups killing thousands of people,
controlling territory in which millions of people live, declaring
themselves an Islamic caliphate committing wholesale human rights abuses,
overpowering local governments where they live, destabilizing whole
regions, proclaiming their intention to – I mean, not to put too fine a
point on it – but declaring heir attentions to take over the whole world,
right? Same thing, both groups. But only one of them has done this to us.
ISIS is the one over which we`re now starting a new American war in
the Middle East. What`s the difference? Is it Middle Eastern oil as
opposed to African oil? Is it that our path to war in Iraq is such a well-
trod path that we find it easy to go back down that path again?
Or has ISIS got themselves the U.S. war they always wanted while Boko
Haram has not simply because ISIS is better at terror? They`re better in
the literal sense of causing terror in us. Terrorizing us. They`re more
skilled at scaring American politicians and scaring the American public.
These propaganda videos showing the shaky drive-by footage of the
White House and the terrible beheading videos showing the execution of
American hostages and British hostages, they have proven their ability to
both get our attention and to scare the American people.
Are they doing that in the hopes that we would react a certain way?
And are we now in fact reacting exactly the way they want us to?
Today, the Pentagon announced that it has now completed 174 airstrikes
in Iraq against ISIS targets. Those airstrikes are expected both to
continue inside Iraq and to expand into Syria.
That combat effort is scheduled to continue for months into November
before Congress ever even tries to vote on whether that is the right thing
for the U.S. military to be doing. The earliest Congress could vote on
authorizing that military force that`s already under way is apparently the
day after Veterans Day this year. That`s convenient.
As far as I can tell, that`s first day that they`ll be back after the
election for the lame duck session. That`s when they`re planning on voting
on this war effort that`s already under way. It`s under way now. It`s
been under way since early August. They aren`t planning on voting on it
Let it go on for months. In the meantime, though, there was a split
vote in the House of Representatives in favor of arming and training Syria
groups that are fighting Bashar al Assad in Syria and also occasionally
fighting against ISIS. A similar and substantial portion of both parties
voted against this matter today, but it did pass with an easy margin. The
major had support from both the Democratic leader in the House, Nancy
Pelosi, and also the Republican leader in the House, Speaker John Boehner.
That measure will now go to the Senate where again the leadership of both
parties, both Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, support it.
And although there has been vocal opposition to that measure,
particularly today from West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who said he
would vote against it, that measure about arming the Syrian rebels is
expected to pass in the Senate as well.
It`s a controversial thing. It`s a controversial idea. It`s an idea
that was first proposed by the White House months ago. But before this
week, Congress didn`t see fit to bring it up.
Now they`ve not only brought it up. Now, they passed it at lightning
speed. And they are content to let a large and growing war effort against
ISIS roll on for months yet, purely on the president`s say-so before they
even bother to put it up for debate.
And none of these things that we are doing are new ideas, right?
These are all old ideas that we`re kicking around for months if not years
before, but they were flatly rejected before by the American people and
ignored by Congress until ISIS succeeded over these past few weeks in
terrorizing us. By so scaring and upsetting us via video that they have
provoked us into doing things that with a cooler head we would never do.
Joining us now is Laith Alkhouri. He`s a senior analyst at Flashpoint
Global Partners, which is a security consultancy firm that tracks and
analyzes terror-related groups and activities.
Mr. Alkhouri, thank you very much for being here.
LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL PARTNERS: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, the video that was released today, the analysis that you
guys have of that, you think it may be announcing some sort of larger,
longer video message for the United States. Am I right in saying that it
is aimed at an American audience and essentially meant to be a declaration
ALKHOURI: It is indeed. It appears to be a declaration of war.
We`ve seen the footage. You know, American troops in the Middle East being
hurt, being wounded, engulfed in flames. You see the flickering of
President Obama`s speech, passing by the White House, then at the end it`s
flames of war.
So, the message is very clear. And this is only the 52-second trailer
before the much bigger video which we`ll be discussing likely not only a
strategy of some – some strategy to counter the United States` campaign
but also it`s going to be a recruitment tool for other fighters to join the
fight and likely from the West. It will probably be encouraging lone wolf
attacks on the United States.
You know, this discussion brings us back to ideology – ideology
that`s difficult to defeat with air power or even ground troops. So, you
know, it does not need a visa to cross borders. All you need is a few
clicks of the button online and the message goes around the world.
MADDOW: My reaction to this stuff just as a citizen is obviously
everybody has the same reaction of revulsion at the barbarism and the
violence. I also as a citizen feel very determined to not give them what
they want, and I feel like as a layman, just looking at the stuff, I feel
like what they are trying to do is to provoke an American response that
they could not get if we were not so terrorized.
Is it clear to you when you analyze their own materials, their own
recruitment pitches, the way they present themselves, that they`re clear
what they want the U.S. government to do? That they want ground troops or
they want an expanded war effort? Can you tell what they want?
ALKHOURI: Well, their message is usually very customized to their
ALKHOURI: So this message is clearly directed at the American public.
And it really intends to influence American public to change the dynamics
of the government, by influencing public opinion, the public opinion is
able to influence government decision-making.
MADDOW: In what way, though? What do they want the American public
to do because they have seen this?
AKHOURI: In my opinion, it really aims at getting the public to be
outraged, at getting new involvement in yet another messy Middle East war.
You know, we`ve only been out of Iraq for a little over three years now.
And they`re trying to tell you that, listen, the United States did not win,
if anything we`re expanding beyond control. And if you come over, we`re
going to yet expand more. We`re going to send you your troops and we`re
going to engulf them in flames, we`re going to carry out IED attacks.
But again, ISIS has demonstrated that it has global aspirations. It
has attracted foreign fighters from over 80 countries around the world.
Something we`ve never seen before. Not even al Qaeda was able to attract
that many foreign fighters.
And we`ve seen them coming from Mexico, from Cambodia, from the
Maldives, countries that are usually not known to host jihadists, or
MADDOW: Does their fencing off against the United States, at least in
their own terms, them position themselves as being equal and opposite to
the United States, is that critical to their recruitment efforts?
ALKHOURI: Absolutely. I think it`s two points here. One, they`re
head-butting with the United States to demonstrate to their followers
they`re a real state, as they claim to be an Islamic State. They`re not
just a terrorist group. They`re not just an Islamist group. They`re an
actual state. That`s how they view themselves.
But the other point is that by butting heads with the United States,
you are demonstrating to your fighters that you`re up to the task.
ALKHOURI: That while al Qaeda is basically missing in action, we are
rising to the occasion.
MADDOW: Provoking the United States, trash-talking, saying we`re
going to defeat you because we can, because we`re that big and because
we`re you`re equal in the world.
It`s – I feel like those subtleties are very important to
understanding what they want from the American people and the American
government. And I wish there was more determination to not give them what
Laith Alkhouri, senior analyst of Flashpoint Partners, thank you very
much. It`s really, really helpful.
ALKHOURI: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, the last time we earthlings got a new country on this
Earth, it was 2011. That`s when the country got a brand spanking new
country called South Sudan.
Before that, we the last time we got a new country on Earth was 2006
when the country that was previously called Serbia and Montenegro became
two countries called Serbia, comma, and also Montenegro. So, used to be
one with an “and” in which both of those things were combined. In 2006,
they both became their own country.
We do not get new countries on earth all that often. It does not
happen frequently. But we might get one as of tomorrow. Scotland votes
tomorrow on whether to secede from the United Kingdom and become its own
country. The polls are really close.
There`s only one question on the ballot. Everybody over the age of 16
in Scotland can vote on it. They`re expecting turnout approaching 100
percent of eligible voters.
In terms of when we`ll know the results, this is when the polls are
open. Just so – we put this up so you can compare it to East Coast time.
The polls open at 7:00 a.m. local time tomorrow morning, with the time
difference that`s 2:00 a.m. tonight on the East Coast of the U.S.
The polls close at 10:00 p.m. local time. That`s a really long – a
15-hour voting day. That`s really late, right? That`s 5:00 p.m. New York
time tomorrow afternoon.
They do not know exactly how long it`s going to take to tally up all
the votes, but we should have results maybe by early on Friday, conceivably
maybe even late tomorrow night. We`ll see.
But then we`ll know if the United Kingdom will continue to be this or
whether instead the United Kingdom will become this.
With a foreign country to their north called Scotland, a country that
sort of likes to think of itself as a little more Scandinavian than it is
British, depending on who you ask. So, that`s the stakes.
Here`s one totally partisan thing to know about this vote tomorrow,
and how it came about. This is a small part of it but it is worth knowing
and it`s partisan. Scotland hates conservatives. Specifically, I mean
that Scotland hates the political party called the Conservative Party, the
Tories in the U.K.
That wasn`t always the case, but particularly since Margaret Thatcher
and what her brand of conservative economics did to Scotland, Scotland
broadly speaking hates the Tories.
This is the delegation that they send to the British parliament in
London right now. In London, the conservatives have an overall majority
but if you were just looking at the Scotland delegation, you would you
never know that. Out of 59 members of parliament from Scotland, only one
is in the Conservative Party, 40 are in the Labour Party, one is a
conservative, the other 18 are from the Scottish Nationalist Party or their
independence or a smaller party called the Liberal Democrats.
Scotland hates the Tories. But in 2010, the same year as our
Republican landslide election here in this country, in 2010, the Tories
won. The Conservative Party took power in the U.K. They only barely made
it. They squeaked into the majority just by getting into coalition with
one of the smaller parties.
But they did win. They did beat Labour and they took office. That`s
how we got David Cameron from the Conservative Party as the British prime
minister as of 2010.
Scotland hated that. Scotland hated that because they hate the
In the following year when Scotland held its own elections north of
the border, Scottish voters gave an outright majority to the Scottish
Nationalist Party which ran on the platform of seceding from the U.K. Yes,
being their own independent nation has been a longstanding romantic dream
of people in Scotland for a very long time, and it`s about a lot of
But in the short-term, one significant part of the argument was oh,
God, save us from the Tories, save us from the Conservative government in
London, save us from the Conservative Party and the conservative prime
minister that just took over the U.K. government in London. We hate those
guys. We don`t want to be part of that.
And as an inevitable outcome of the Scottish people voting for the
secessionist party when they got a chance to in 2011, voting for them in
big enough numbers that the secessionist party got an outright majority in
the Scottish regional government, now, tomorrow Scotland is about to vote
on whether or not to secede. And the polls really are too close the call.
And heading into tomorrow`s vote, the government of the U.K., they`ve
been pulling out all the stops, begging and pleading for Scotland to vote
no on independence.
Prime Minister David Cameron himself has been flying the Scottish flag
over the prime minister`s residence at Downing Street. He`s taken multiple
trips to try to persuade Scotland to stay part of the U.K.
But the problem when you understand this partisan part of it is that
he really is part of the reason Scotland wants to leave the U.K. in the
If you want an analogy to American politics, Dave Weigel at “Slate”
came up with a good one. He wrote this, bringing Conservative Prime
Minister David Cameron to campaign in Scotland is little like bringing
President Obama to Wyoming to help campaign against a bill that would ban
guns in Walmart. In other words, the guy may make a good argument. He may
strongly want Scotland to vote no, but every time Conservative Prime
Minister David Cameron shows his face or sets foot in Scotland, which hates
the Conservative Party, he reminds them that the Conservative Party runs
the U.K. and that`s part of why they want to leave the U.K. in first place.
So, there`s lots of ways to look at this historic vote tomorrow. One
very small part of it is partisan politics. But that`s part of it.
And in terms of partisan politics, if Scotland votes to secede and
forms its own nation, it`s possible that David Cameron is going to have to
resign as prime minister. I mean, he`ll be the prime minister under whom
the United Kingdom lost roughly a third of its land mass and more than 5
million of its population.
That said, a yes vote to make Scotland its own country would probably
help the Conservative Party in Britain in terms of its majority in
parliament because the whole conservative hating Scottish delegation of MPs
would now be foreigners. That would mean they`d have no say in the U.K.
So they`d be gone.
Partisan politics is only a very small window into this vote tomorrow.
But the bottom line of that part of it is that a yes vote tomorrow for an
independent Scotland would probably cost the conservative prime minister
his job, but it would help the Conservative Party overall in what remains
of the U.K. simply by virtue of them having shoved off from their own
nation the part of their nation that has always hated them the most ever
since Margaret Thatcher. Watch this space.
MADDOW: One of the things we`ve been following pretty closely lately
is the competing predictions from different statistics gurus about who`s
going to win the elections this year. The question of whether or not the
Democrats are going to keep control of the Senate or whether the
Republicans are going to take control. There`s a lot of really smart
people making predictions. They change them every day about the likelihood
of who is going to win in November.
Well, today a full scale nerd fight broke out between two of those
very famous statistics gurus. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com and Sam
Wong they both published competing screeds defending – defending – why
their own model is right and why the other`s model is wrong and woe be unto
the civilian who steps between the two statisticians fighting about
Coming up in just a couple of minutes, I will tell you what each of
those dueling, very skilled predictors, are saying today about who`s likely
to win the Senate.
But we`ve also got the strangest possible report out of Kansas. We`re
now waiting on a court ruling that could determine who is going to win that
Senate race and, therefore, maybe the whole Senate.
As we wait for that court ruling tonight, we do have a very strange
report out of Kansas related to that case. It`s a report so strange and so
good that it is actually the best new thing in the world tonight.
It`s amazing. It`s from Kansas and coming up right at the end of the
show tonight. Stay right where you are.
MADDOW: If you want to see how fast things are moving in the out of
control and still growing scandal swirling around the National Football
League, take a look at this visual.
This is Monday afternoon this week. It`s the general manager of the
NFL`s Minnesota Vikings, announcing that their star running back Adrian
Peterson will play in the Vikings game this upcoming weekend.
Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges just a few days
before this. He was forced to sit out the Vikings game on Sunday, but then
Monday, the Vikings announced that Adrian Peterson had been cleared to play
this upcoming weekend.
The Vikings general manager said that Adrian Peterson, quote,
“deserves to play.” That was Monday.
Now, this, this on the right, OK, this was the Vikings press
conference today. Notice anything different besides the camera angle?
On Monday, the Vikings officials made their announcement about Adrian
Peterson coming back while they stood in front of a purple backdrop with a
big Radisson Hotel chain logo on it. Radisson is their main sponsor.
Today, that logo was gone replaced by a logo for the team`s Web site
instead. That`s because Radisson dropped their sponsorship of the Vikings
after they announced Adrian Peterson was going to come back and play.
Then today after that, the Vikings did a U-turn, they said they
changed their minds again. So, first, he couldn`t play, then he can play,
now, he can`t play again. Today they decided to deactivate Adrian Peterson
and this time, it`s an indefinitely deactivation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WILF, MINNESOTA VIKINGS CO-OWNER: In the end, it really is about
getting it right, and that`s what we wanted to do here. And we made a
mistake. And the main thing is we`re getting it right and that`s how we
came to this decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, Adrian Peterson gets indicted on child abuse charges,
then he gets benched for a game, then his team announced that he will be
able to play after all, then he gets suspended indefinitely all in the
course of less than a week.
Welcome to the total mess that is a multibillion dollar NFL.
For the last two weeks, the NFL and various teams in the league have
been careening from one case to other when it comes to players facing
criminal domestic violence charges, started, of course, with Baltimore
Raven star Ray Rice captured on videotape knocking out his then-fiancee in
an elevator and then dragging her limp body out of that elevator into a
casino lobby. That was the start of this. That has not been the end of
In addition to the confusing “we lost our sponsor”/Adrian Peterson U-
turn statement today by the Minnesota Vikings, there was also a press
conference today by the Carolina Panthers. They`ve been dealing with a
domestic violence situation of their own, concerning Greg Hardy, a star
defensive player for the team who was arrested and convicted earlier this
year for assaulting and threatening to kill his then-girlfriend, he was
The Panthers allowed Greg Hardy to play in their first game last
weekend despite the conviction. Then they benched him in their second
game, this weekend, and then they said the situation was fluid, then they
announced that he would no longer play, until his appeal and his court case
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVE GETTLEMAN, CAROLINA PANTHERS: Greg has decided to take a
voluntary leave with pay until his legal proceedings are resolved. We
understand Greg`s decisions and given the circumstances, it`s very
important that he concentrate on his legal issues. We believe this is the
right course of action at this time for both Greg and the Carolina
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, conviction, then you play, then you don`t play, then you
get suspended. Have I mentioned this is a mess?
Most of the news today about the NFL was either about those two
players being benched by their teams or it was about the various corporate
sponsors for the league expressing unease with how the NFL has handled all
these domestic abuse cases.
Then into that news cycle came breaking news tonight that yet another
NFL player has been arrested and that arrest is yet again on suspicion of
domestic violence. Yes, another one. This is Jonathan Dwyer. He`s a
running back for the Arizona Cardinals.
Jonathan Dwyer was pulled out of practice today so he could be
questioned by police about two incidents that allegedly took place inside
his home earlier this summer. There`s not a lot of details yet about those
incidents, but police said tonight that they involve two victims, two
alleged victims – a 27-year-old woman and an 18-month-old child.
Jonathan Dwyer is known to be married with one child, so presumably
this is his wife and child, but we don`t know that yet. When questioned by
police tonight, Jonathan Dwyer denied that any physical assault took place,
but he was booked by police into the Maricopa County jail.
Just within the last hour or so, Phoenix police announced the charges
against Jonathan Dwyer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. TRENT CRUMP, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Investigators are
charging him with one count of aggravated assault for causing a fracture,
one count of aggravated assault involving a minor, two counts of criminal
damage for damage that was done at the residence during the altercations
and to a cell phone – one count of preventing the use of a cell phone in
an emergency and one count of an assault for allegedly assaulting the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The Arizona Cardinals today perhaps seeing how other teams in
the league have been flailing in terms of how they`ve handled these
situations, the Cardinals tonight announce they`ve deactivated Jonathan
Dwyer from all team activities effective immediately.
Joining us now from Phoenix is Bob McManaman. He`s a sports reporter
for “The Arizona Republican”.
Mr. McManaman, thanks very much for being here. I appreciate your
BOB MCMANAMAN, ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Glad to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, we heard the charges that Jonathan Dwyer is facing there
from the sheriff`s department. Do we know anything more about these two
incidents, about what`s being alleged here?
MCMANAMAN: Well, back-to-back days in July 21st and 22nd as you
heard, the officers stated a fracture was sustained on the 27-year-old. We
don`t know what happened to the 18-month-old. And we don`t really know if
that`s his wife and/or his child, but it does appear that way.
They needed some medical records. They didn`t get that until after
September 11th, that was a week ago. Now here we are. Deactivated.
They guess is this player will be placed on the commissioner`s reserve
list, exempt list – mean, it`s a way to get paid, not get punished until
you go through the court system.
MADDOW: In terms of how the cardinals have dealt with this, we`re
watching lots of teams struggle with these issues, watching the league
struggle with these issues. As far as I understand it, this has come up
for the Cardinals before, albeit not with the white hot spotlight on the
issue right now. As far as I understand, the running back that`s sort of a
backup to Jonathan Dwyer, his name is Chris Rainey. He`s also had a history
with run-ins with the law over domestic abuse allegations.
MCMANAMAN: They signed Chris Rainey last week to the practice squad.
So, he`s not an active player, but he could be activated this week
ironically now that Jonathan Dwyer is deactivated. So, you`re going to
have one domestic incident for a guy who`s got two. And it involved
various different things.
Chris Rainey was accused and later pled guilty to slapping a
girlfriend and another stalking charge that included some other nefarious
situations. He`s been kicked off of two teams – the Steelers and the
Colts within the last three years. And now he`s here.
We asked Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Cardinals about that.
This is the interesting part to me. I checked it out with two veterans who
know this player. One of them was Jonathan Dwyer and he gave me his
blessing. I don`t know to make of that. Other than it`s a zoo. It`s a
circus. The NFL`s got serious problems.
MADDOW: When you say he gave you his blessing, that doesn`t bother
him, those charges hanging over him?
MCMANAMAN: The coach went to two players who played with Rainey in
2012 with the Steelers. One of whom he went to was Jonathan Dwyer. And
Jonathan Dwyer said, he`s a good kid. You can count on him.
And Arians said he wouldn`t have signed Chris Rainey had it not been
for the endorsement he got from these two players, one of them again was
the player we`re talking about.
MADDOW: One of whom was the one who was stepping out of practice
today to go speak to police on his own charges.
MADDOW: I mean, do you sense, Bob, that – I mean, without strong
leadership from the league here, that essentially we`re in sort of a – I
don`t know if it`s a race to the bottom, but to see the Cardinals having
picked up this guy rainy after he was cut from two other teams. Each team
has to make their own decision about what their standards are here and
about what they want from a player in terms of what they can stand in terms
of the moral stain of that player.
I mean, do the teams compete with each other on those terms or how do
they relate to each other when they make these decisions?
MCMANAMAN: Well, all I can say is, speaking for the team I cover, the
Cardinals, knowing the people, players, the coaching, staff that I do and
especially Bruce Arians, he`s a players coach. He does have moral
background and moral fiber. There`s no question about that.
But I think this league, you`re so challenged to win. If you don`t
win, you don`t produce, you get fired. Everybody gets changed. The owners
want to win. They see one team go from worst to first. They want to do
everything they can.
Now, Jonathan Dwyer is a nice backup, a running back. But he`s not a
starting running. He`s not a number one. He`s a number two. That is what
it is in and of itself, but players and coaches – coaches want to win and
they go after who they can the best players who can help them win.
MADDOW: And one of the things we`re starting to see if whether or not
you are punished for beating a woman or a child to the point that the
police get involved depends in part on your star value. At least until the
league figures this out, it seems like it`s so chaotic. Those factors are
being weighed as much as anything else.
Bob McManaman, sports reporter for “The Arizona Republic”, thanks for
helping us understand the story out of Arizona tonight. Appreciate it.
MCMANAMAN: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
All right. Just ahead, we need a new best thing in the world, don`t
we? We`ll get one. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, there`s new news tonight about the investigation into the
police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. That was the case
that led to a national uproar and to weeks of protests and confrontations
in the streets of suburban St. Louis.
Mike Brown, as you`ll recall, was an unarmed teenager, 18 years old.
He was shot multiple times by a single police officer on August 9th. The
weeks of protests that that led to in the streets of Ferguson have since
continued at city council meetings in Ferguson and also in greater St.
People in and around Ferguson are not letting this case go. They`re
still calling for a full investigation. They want justice for Mike Brown.
Part of that investigation has to do with the St. Louis County
prosecutor`s office. County prosecutors are presenting evidence in the
case to a grand jury. It is a grand jury who will decide whether or not
they want to indict the police officer who`s implicated in this shooting.
Now, at the outset, they said they expected the grand jury to make a
decision by mid-October. This week, though, a judge decided to extend the
appointment for the grand jury until January 7th. County officials say
that doesn`t mean the grand jury will need that long to reach a decision,
but they do have until January 7th now.
And now, we got an important glimpse into how the work of that grand
jury is going, because now we know the Ferguson police officer who shot
Mike Brown, he has appeared before that St. Louis County grand jury. A
source telling the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” that Officer Darren Wilson
was, quote, “cooperative with the grand jury.”
The officer was not obligated to appear before that grand jury but he
did. And when he got there, his appearance before them lasted almost four
hours. Four hours.
We will keep following this story. Watch this space.
“Best New Thing in the World” coming up next.
MADDOW: OK. “The Best Thing in the World” and it is related to
politics, but it is not about politics at all.
The context here is the race to win control of the U.S. Senate. Sam
Wong of the Princeton Election Consortium, the guy who correctly predicted
the outcome of the every Senate race in the country in the last election,
Sam Wong says that as of today, the Democrats have 74 percent chance of
keeping control of the Senate after the elections this year – Democrats, a
74 percent chance.
On the other hand, statistical guru Nate Silver and his model over at
FiveThirtyEighyt.com, they say the opposite. Right now, Nate`s model says
the Republicans are more likely to take control of the Senate. He gives
them a 54 percent chance of taking over the majority from the Democrats.
So, Sam Wong says bet on Democrats, Nate Silver says bet on the
Who`s right? I don`t know. And you don`t neither. And they can`t
both be right. And maybe neither of them are right. And you shouldn`t bet
But control of the Senate is a fascinating unknown right now. And one
of the races that we`ve been watching really closely in order to try to
figure what`s going to happen in the Senate is this race in Kansas. And
this race in Kansas, the secretary of state, Republican Chris Kobach, Tea
Party poster child, he`s trying to force a Democrat to be on the ballot who
doesn`t want to be on the ballot. It`s a weird, weird turn of events in
this race, the seemingly small thing that could have a huge impact on who
wins that Senate seat, and that could have a huge impact on who wins the
control of the whole U.S. Senate for the rest of the Obama presidency.
So, Chris Kobach on one hand and Democrats on the other hand – they
both made their arguments in front of the Kansas Supreme Court. It could
come down at anytime now.
But here`s where the best new thing in the world comes in. In the
course of reporting on that story, we`ve been, of course, constantly
refreshing the web page on the Kansas secretary of state`s Web site,
looking for any updates, maybe on his Twitter feed as to what`s going on.
We`re anticipating the decision could come at any moment. It has national
implications. So, it`s like refresh, refresh, refresh, refresh.
Since we`ve had our eyes glued, we`ve noticed something. His Twitter
account existed since 2010. In those four years, the office has tweeted
sparingly. Mostly dry stuff about upcoming elections. The account has
followed only a handful of other Twitter accounts. They only followed 26
people after four years. They`re only following 26 other Twitter feeds.
And it`s mostly local news media, like the Kansas free press, Kansas
City Star, some other government agencies like the Kansas Labor Department
and Lyon County election office.
But then there`s one standout thing. Sometime in the spring of 2012,
the Kansas secretary of state`s office started following this guy, the
Topeka lamp dancer. Really? Not lap dancer, lamp dancer. Tell me more.
The Topeka lamp dancer describes himself on his Twitter page as,
quote, “always dancing”. “Always dancing with one of my 12 lamps here in
the top city.” And if you search for the Topeka lamp dancer online,
behold, there it is. And there are lots of videos of him doing his thing.
He dances away, with a lot of energy. He`s usually holding up a small
electrical table lamp. Although I do not think he plugs in his lamps. He
just dances with them.
The Topeka lamp dancer told the “Topeka Capital Journal” that his
lamps are either bought or borrowed from local thrift stores. He says he
sometimes dances up to five hours a day. He`s usually alone but he can
draw dancing partner or two at times.
And I don`t have to tell you this, you can see for yourself,
obviously, he is fabulous. And he has apparently made a fan out of
Secretary of State Chris Kobach. I have no idea how this cam about, but
it`s great. Seriously, the country`s most aggressive, most partisan, most
radically conservative secretary of state who has never before ever done a
single thing that I`ve identified with ever. It turns out, he has a soft
spot for the Topeka lamp dancer. And now I do, too.
Best New Thing in the World by a mile. And I have to tell you, I now
also follow the Topeka lamp dancer and I hope to meet him in person
That does it for us tonight. Bridging the partisan divide. We`ll see
you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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